Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-239)|
30 NOVEMBER 2004
MP AND MS
Q220 Chairman: Croatia is rather hoping
to be a member by 2008.
Ms Pierce: 2009.
Mr MacShane: That is what they
are hoping for and I think they can achieve that. I am saying
that by the end of this decade, if Serbia were to comply fully
with ICTY and help us solve Kosovo, I see no reason why Serbia
should not be knocking on the door of both NATO and the EU by
the end of this decade. It needs a different approach from Belgrade
and there is not one thing that London, Brussels or Washington
can do, that needs to happen from within the countries themselves.
Chairman: That is important.
Q221 Andrew Mackinlay: I can only speak
for myself because I have not discussed it with other colleagues,
but the impression I got was that the Federation of Serbia-Montenegro
was a wholly artificial rump state. To a large extent it was a
fiction. The reality is that for many years the United Kingdom
and other Western countries gave a de facto recognition
to Montenegro and the then President Djukanovic. They have
an economy based upon the euro and they have an audience, probably
rightly, in London and elsewhere because you have to deal with
them as they are de facto a government. This struck meI
think you portrayed it a few moments ago when you almost proudly
said: "What a wonderful thing we have done to hold Serbia
and Montenegro together"as being crazy. One thing
is almost a racing certainty that in two years time Montenegro
is going to be independent. I want to conclude on this. In fact,
that could be the unlocking mechanism for a lot of these things
because it could be that country could be fast-tracked into the
European Union. It is small to absorb and has an economy comparable
to Malta or potential Malta and so on. Also, that would mean it
would probably be easier to unlock Kosovo from Serbia and do Serbia
a favour by indicating the carrot of the European Union membership.
That seems to me to dissolve the final rump of Yugoslavia and
probably would be beneficial to all three. You commended our previous
report and in our previous report we expressed concern aboutI
am not sure what words we usedthe fact that there was no
diplomatic representation in Podgorica, and again, I think my
colleagues were horrified that although there was a highly professional,
dedicated and talented locally-engaged member of staff in Podgorica
there was no full-time diplomat. It seemed to us that was foolhardy
in the extreme. It meant we were not building up credits with
what is probably highly likely to be an independent Montenegro
in a little while. It contrasted with other European major players
and, also, in terms of a listening post and the traditional job
of a diplomat it could not be done adequately from Belgrade. What
Mr MacShane: If you go back to
your report, Mr Mackinlay, which I do not have quite by heart,
so I have it here to refresh my memory, you say that the United
Kingdom Government and press on Montenegro and Serbia say that
isolation is not an option and European integration would depend
on neighbourly co-operation and integration. I think Mr Solana,
who principally brokered the relationship between Serbia and Montenegro,
took heart from those recommendations. I fully accept that there
are voices in Montenegro that call for a split. One thing I have
really learned in the three years of dealing with the Western
Balkans ministerially is that there are no racing certainties
except that next year there will be a lot of problems that have
not been solved. I am not quite sure I would say that a split
and a different state of Montenegro was that fast around the corner
but if they vote for it, that is their business. We opened a British
office in Podgorica last year, we have a very, very good person
down there and our ambassador travels regularly, and we have very
good links. I have to say that no one in three years of visiting
the region has said to me they want somehow a sub-embassy or more
than we have in Montenegro.
Q222 Chairman: Before Mr Mackinlay comes
back on this, why is there no person UK-based in Podgorica.
Mr MacShane: It is simply a question
of resources. We have a locally-engaged person and sometimes I
find our locally-engaged staff are completely loyal to HMG
Q223 Chairman: There is no doubt about
Mr MacShane: speak the
Q224 Andrew Mackinlay: That is not an
issue, Minister. I could not have commended her more highly, so
that is agreed ground, but there is a world of difference. It
does not matter if she was the Archangel Gabriel, she is not a
British diplomat and there does need to be someone there. Our
colleagues in the European Union do have diplomatic representation
there and also, you have avoided this, our reportand I
am not saying you have to accept our report but you commended
itpointed out to you four years ago that there should
be representation there. We are saying to you that it is madness
them not being there. I hear what you say about the future but
it is frankly highly likely that Montenegro will be de jure
independent but de facto it is independent. The thin tissue
which holds Serbia Montenegro together is a fictionnever
mind what the great Mr Solana saysit really does not exist.
The Foreign Minister of the Federation can say what he likes but
it does not commit Prime Minister Djukanovic, it is independent.
So why not face the facts and also look upon it as an unlocking
Mr MacShane: To answer the three
or four separate points there, the Committee's report in 2001
said that we should have a permanent post in Montenegro and we
have established that, I accept not with an English-born diplomat,
but this is a serious question of resources and perhaps the Foreign
Affairs Committee will be taking evidence about the problems of
resourcing the FCO at the moment. I am personally happy that I
get all the reporting I need as a minister on what is happening
in Montenegro from our people down there. A lot of Montenegrins
come through London and these are no longer far away places of
which we know nothing, and the classic diplomatic post is not
necessarily the only way in which to stay in touch with a country.
On the issue of Serbia and Montenegro being a fiction, that may
be of interest to the new ambassador of Serbia and Montenegro
who has taken up the post here who is a Montenegrin. On the issue
of saying they are coming into the EU tomorrow, I have to say
as delicately as I can that there is a huge crime problem in Montenegro.
If you talk to Italian colleagues you will find that concerns
them greatly, so the notion that Montenegro is a little Switzerland
or a little Luxembourg which can join the EU tomorrow is not something
which anybody in the rest of Europe would accept. So it does not
unlock all of the other problems. It is not for me to pre-judge
what the Montenegrins decide to do with Montenegro over the coming
years, but we have worked as hard as we can as Britain and as
Europe and the international community to make the most and best
sense of that relationship.
Chairman: Before we go on to Bosnia,
Sir John has a question.
Q225 Sir John Stanley: If Montenegro
in 2006 votes for independence in the referendum, will the British
Government accept the result?
Mr MacShane: Yes. I do not see
that we are going to do anything other than accept that result.
The terms of that independence will have to be defined in relation
to Serbia but I cannot imagine the British Government as it were
saying that Montenegro cannot have its independence, and there
will be UN questions to answer. It depends what its constitutional
arrangements are, whether it respects European norms and values.
I do not want to say independence on any terms, declared by any
faction which can get a majority vote in the plebiscite. There
are a lot of qualifiers to it but there is nobody in Britain saying,
"Under all circumstances, under all conceivable future scenarios,
the only future state we will accept is a merged Serbia Montenegro."
There is nobody in Belgrade who argues that and nobody in Montenegro
who argues that, it will depend on developments.
Q226 Sir John Stanley: Minister, at one
of our meetings in Belgrade, one of our senior meetings, the view
was put to us that there was a rising tide of Milosevic sympathisers
within the police and the armed forces. Is that the perception
of the British Government?
Mr MacShane: Not speaking Serbian,
not talking to every level of the hierarchy in the country, I
genuinely cannot say. I am not ducking the question. I have not
had that report directed to me. Clearly, Mr Milosevic plays on
a lot of nationalist sympathy and sentiment in Serbia. I see the
Serbs trapped almost in a triple victimhooda victim of
the old Communist regime, a victim of Milosevic, a victim as they
see it of the NATO interventionand now perhaps a fourth
victim, a victim of the appeals Mr Milosevic makes on television
from the ICTY Tribunal. Our job I think is to invite our friends
in Serbia to release themselves from that straitjacket and conceive
of a better and different future. I can only make that appeal
and again everything I say to the Committee I assure you I have
said on the record and in private regularly in Belgrade. I just
wish every other European governmentand I do not mean to
criticise any of our partnersand every other European parliament
was engaged as solidly as this Committee is, and I hope the Foreign
Office is under Jack Straw and the work I carry out.
Q227 Ms Stuart: I am very happy to have
a written answer to this because it may be slightly technical.
Given the current constitutional arrangements and if the European
constitution were to be accepted, presumably there would be a
new position on the acknowledgement of independence following
a referendum. Would the UK Government still be actually able on
its own to accept the independence or would it be bound by a European
Mr MacShane: No, the Treaty which
is now on the table, as you know, the relevant CFSP clause, says
that no foreign policy position can be adopted save on the basis
Q228 Ms Stuart: No, the overall policy
is by unanimity and then the precise decisions will be by QMVTake
my word for it
Mr MacShane: With respect
Ms Stuart: I really would like this in
Q229 Chairman: Minister, do write to
us on that.
Mr MacShane: You do not have a
unless it is agreed with unanimity. The implementation of it could
be carried out on QMV but since any state has bilateral state
relationships by definitionunless the EU of 25 agrees they
will recognise Montenegro or recognise State X or Y if an island
pops up in the middle of the Pacificthen Britain has its
own bilateral diplomatic relations
Q230 Ms Stuart: Because the obverse of
that would be that Greece could scupper the acknowledgement of,
say, Macedonian independence in a recognition by the EU, could
Mr MacShane: Mr Chairman, I do
not know if my hon. friend was here last week when we had the
evidence on Cyprus, but it seemed to cause outrage to certain
members that the European Union could not impose its collective
view and allow direct flights to Cyprus, and I made the point
that certain members of the Committee were those who were the
most strenuous in upholding national vetoes. What is a national
veto for Britain is a national veto for Greece or anywhere else.
Q231 Ms Stuart: I really would appreciate
having that in writing. Not on the current situation but on the
text of the
Mr MacShane: On the current Treaty?
Ms Stuart: Yes.
Q232 Chairman: We have Bosnia and Herzegovina
to deal with. First on Bosnia, the Committee took oral evidence
in public from Lord Ashdown, and I must say there was widespread
commendation of the work of Lord Ashdown when we were in Bosnia,
that he and others see the process as a reduction of his powers,
do you accept this? How should this reduction be brought about?
Mr MacShane: Lord Ashdown has
always said he wants to be the last High Representative and Secretary
to the UN and the EU Special Representative. We certainly would
like to see that happen. I have now been able to meet Bosnia and
Herzegovinian defence ministersa defence minister certainly
could not have existed before Lord Ashdown arrived thereand
we want to see as much state administration in place as possible.
Ms Pierce: May I add to that on
the Bonn Powers particularly? They exist in two respects, one
in respect of allowing Lord Ashdown to remove obstructionist officials
Q233 Chairman: The Berlin Accord?
Ms Pierce: Yes.and one
in respect of imposing legislation. Over the past couple of years
Lord Ashdown has reduced to virtually nil the amount of legislation
he imposed. You know that following the decision in June that
Bosnia was not ready for PfPhe
exercised his Bonn Powers to remove 59 RS obstructionist officials.
In our view, the removal powers are likely to be necessary for
quite a while, not least because that is a guarantee, if you like,
that Bosnia can keep making progress moving forward. Notwithstanding
that, there may be some circumstances about to arise in which
the only way to get certain legislation through Parliament might
be imposition, particularly in respect of some of the economic
legislation, but Lord Ashdown will use it sparingly and we would
support that split between removals and imposition.
Q234 Chairman: Thank you for that clarification.
Minister, the Dayton Agreement imposed on Bosnia what must be
one of the most complicated structures which any country could
suffer. How do you see that being changed, although it may, I
concede, reflect the ethnic realities on the ground?
Mr MacShane: I come to this from
a slightly different perspective, Mr Chairman, perhaps derived
from having lived and worked for many years in Switzerland where
you have nearly two dozen prime ministers, two dozen different
police systems, education systems, other ministers all proclaiming
pretty autonomous rights and a certain amount of power seceded
to the Swiss Confederal level. I am also nervous of the notion
that somehow the fewer elected and accountable people there are
the better. I am not in favour of just one or two elected politicians
and the rest of them are all bureaucrats. Dayton was very complicated
but let us also acknowledge that under Dayton Bosnia Herzegovina
has been able to come to an increasing modus vivendi where,
certainly under Lord Ashdown's leadership, we have seen a lot
of progress. The killings are not happening, there is greater
integration between the communitiesmuch more with the Bosnia
Croat community I accept than with the Serb communityand
if there is political will in Bosnia Herzegovina right through
the three communities then I think quite swift strides can be
made. I was just one personal witness of the transformation of
Sarajevo in three years, which was quite remarkable. It was a
very shabby, shell-marked, bullet hole-pocked, rather run-down
city in 2001, and it has become a lot neater, has a lot more new
buildings, is looking a lot brighter in 2004.
Q235 Chairman: I understand in this relatively
small country there are about 1,400 ministers. I am sure Switzerland
does not quite run to that. On the next area, you have described
the complicated structure; do you think that structure in itself
would be a barrier to eventual EU entry?
Mr MacShane: I do not think the
present constitution is as EU friendly or compatible as one should
wish. Also, we have got to be careful to say that the EU has got
a model constitution which countries have to adopt.
Q236 Chairman: Belgium.
Mr MacShane: I was trying to do
the sums in my head, but I am afraid I failed that 1898 entrance
test into King Edward's school that was in the papers the other
day. There is one elected official for every 300 US citizens,
so I was desperately trying to work out what 300 into 250 million
was. I think that is scores of thousands of elected officials.
Chairman: Point made.
Q237 Andrew Mackinlay: The point is not
accepted by me because, as both of you have raised Belgium and
the United States, one thing you have is constitutional symmetry.
In this particular Bosnia-Herzegovina you have not got that. You
have got the state which is deemed with broad foreign policy affairs,
probably are not working well; see the United Nations. Then you
have the semi-autonomous Republika Srbska which has domestic functions
that we are familiar with around the world, in states, provinces
and even in Scotland. But when you come to the rest of the state,
you have these numerous cantonsa bit of a misnomerand
the federation level. That cannot possible endure, can it? It
cannot be conducive to state building, it cannot be conducive
to commerce, it cannot be conducive to mobility of labour and
freedom of movement, all of which are essential ingredients to
the European Union. I understand the necessity and arguably it
has worked rather well. It has brought some peace, but in terms
of progress the constitution is going to mean that things could
just stand still and fossilise.
Mr MacShane: I do not entirely
agree with that. I do cite the example of defence where a state
ministry and an integrated military structure are coming into
Q238 Andrew Mackinlay: I accept that.
Mr MacShane: That has happened
in the last couple of years. I can foresee progress in other areas.
I do not want to go into other countries. I have just finished
reading Robert Carey's biography of Lyndon Johnson in the Senate
and the speeches about states' rights and that no federal authority
would tell the state of Alabama or Georgia what it could do inside
its own state area were quite Bosnian in their intensity in the
1950s, but things move on.
Q239 Andrew Mackinlay: Let us move on
to the problems. Clearly, the fact is that the Republika Srpska
is not complying or collaborating with ICTY. Is that going to
be an impediment for the whole of the rest of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina
and perhaps its aspirations to join the European Union and other
international institutions? You cannot have Srpska holding back
the rest, can you?
Mr MacShane: I think Lord Ashdown
is moving forward to get police reform through on the basis of
the constitutional settlement under Dayton. This complicated cantonal
federalistic system was the price for walking out of Dayton and
stopping the fighting and I think it was a price worth paying.
Certainly, you are right to say that one of the Big Three of the
wanted ICTY indictees, Karadzic, is not being adequately chased,
hunted down and sought for by the Republika Srpska authorities.
What we have said, very clearly, and this is accepted, is that
we will only deal with one state level authority. The fact that
a bit of Bosnia-Herzegovina or a region or an area or one community
has not got the problems with ICTY that those Serbs protecting
Karadzic, have does not mean they get to join PfP or get
onto an EU track. Clearly, we have said, and that is the position
of the entire international community irrespective of what positions
people started from or where they are today, that there is one
country, one sovereign UN recognised Republika called Bosnia-Herzegovina
and that is what we would deal with. It is the responsibility
of all the people there, no matter what their religion or ethnic
background is, to accept the responsibilities of producing what
the European Union and the international community wants.
17 Qualified Majority Voting. Back
Common Foreign and Security Policy. Back
Partnership for Peace. Back